Lebanon goals set in motion
Council gets look at new city budget

The Cincinnati Enquirer

LEBANON — Council members spent the fall — and about $7,500 — on goal-setting sessions to plan for the city's future. Now they want to get started on reaching those goals.

City Manager Richard Hayward is to present council with a revised budget tonight that highlights spending for nearly a dozen initiatives, including constructing a recreation center and amphitheater, and securing an additional 500 acres of green space over the next decade.

The initiatives are a sign council is aggressively planning for the city's future, Councilman Mark Flick said.

“Basically, this year's council has put directives in the budget, while last year's council was struggling with what was in it,” said Mr. Flick, who serves as Finance Committee chairman. “Prior councils had done nothing with the budget but listen and say yes.”

Mr. Flick said he expects the bottom line of the 1999 general fund budget to be around $5.5 million, up nearly $500,000 from this year. However, where some of the money goes likely will change, he said.

The $7,500 is for consulting work.

The Finance Committee recommended dropping an economic development posi tion proposed by Mr. Hayward. Instead, members want to add a deputy city manager to shoulder some of the day-to-day operations, leaving the city manager to head up economic development.

Improving the quality of life for the city's 13,700 residents also was a high priority for the Finance Committee. In addition to setting aside green space and building a year-round recreational center, the committee proposed earmarking $50,000 toward construction of an amphitheater. It would be completed in 2002 to celebrate the city's bicentennial. The committee also suggested creating a recreation director position.

City employees would receive a 3 percent cost-of-living increase in the proposal, while merit increases would be postponed until council commissions a comparison study.

Some employees' salaries are out of line with other private and public organizations, Councilman Joe McKenzie said. He expects the study to take about six months. Then council would restructure the salary schedule and make any changes in pay retroactive. Employees earning higher than average would likely see their pay be frozen — but not decreased, while those earning less than comparable wages would get a boost, Mr. McKenzie said.

Mr. Hayward doesn't expect the final 1999 budget to be considerably different from the one he presented to council in October.

Although council could vote on the budget tonight, Mr. Flick said he expects the seven-member board to set up a special meeting next week.

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